Don’t Sell TowneBank (NASDAQ:TOWN) Before You Read This

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This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We’ll look at TowneBank’s (NASDAQ:TOWN) P/E ratio and reflect on what it tells us about the company’s share price. TowneBank has a P/E ratio of 14.03, based on the last twelve months. In other words, at today’s prices, investors are paying $14.03 for every $1 in prior year profit.

Check out our latest analysis for TowneBank

How Do You Calculate A P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for TowneBank:

P/E of 14.03 = $26.37 ÷ $1.88 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying a higher price for each $1 of company earnings. That is not a good or a bad thing per se, but a high P/E does imply buyers are optimistic about the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. When earnings grow, the ‘E’ increases, over time. That means unless the share price increases, the P/E will reduce in a few years. A lower P/E should indicate the stock is cheap relative to others — and that may attract buyers.

TowneBank increased earnings per share by a whopping 33% last year. And earnings per share have improved by 7.6% annually, over the last five years. So we’d generally expect it to have a relatively high P/E ratio.

How Does TowneBank’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that TowneBank has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the banks industry average (13.2).

NASDAQGS:TOWN PE PEG Gauge February 6th 19
NASDAQGS:TOWN PE PEG Gauge February 6th 19

Its P/E ratio suggests that TowneBank shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. If the company has better than average prospects, then the market might be underestimating it. I inform my view byby checking management tenure and remuneration, among other things.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

It’s important to note that the P/E ratio considers the market capitalization, not the enterprise value. In other words, it does not consider any debt or cash that the company may have on the balance sheet. In theory, a company can lower its future P/E ratio by using cash or debt to invest in growth.

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

TowneBank’s Balance Sheet

TowneBank’s net debt is 22% of its market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Bottom Line On TowneBank’s P/E Ratio

TowneBank has a P/E of 14. That’s below the average in the US market, which is 16.9. The EPS growth last year was strong, and debt levels are quite reasonable. If the company can continue to grow earnings, then the current P/E may be unjustifiably low. Since analysts are predicting growth will continue, one might expect to see a higher P/E so it may be worth looking closer.

Investors should be looking to buy stocks that the market is wrong about. If the reality for a company is not as bad as the P/E ratio indicates, then the share price should increase as the market realizes this. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: TowneBank may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.